From the outset of Monday’s (Feb. 28) council meeting, it was obvious the CCA members of the council had one objective, to delay, obfuscate and prevent any action not controlled by their voting bloc. One could easily conclude that talking points were shared among the CCA Council members beforehand, especially when a CCA board chair chimes in with “suggested” language for an amendment to a motion early in the meeting. It may not be incontrovertible proof of a violation of the Open Meetings Act, but the clumsy execution did nothing to persuade against the unethical appearance, even if it did provide comic relief.
After all, the CCA wants control of every aspect of town life and governance, they proved that last night once again. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see details in writing, but the three councilors uttered the word “control,” so many times it started to lose meaning.
Councilor Van Slyke wants to give control of the work product of the Affordable Housing Commission to the Planning Commission. Why? As explained, the only vote needed was a procedural vote to move forward to explore a funding stream.
Then the meeting turned to the food truck issue, something that should have been a no-brainer. However, Van Slyke and crew had dozens of questions and comments, mostly about how they could control every aspect of the event. Even after assurances about garbage collection and the fact the Chamber of Commerce could muster a cadre of volunteers that would cost the town nothing, Councilor Clarkin asked about which dumpster would be used. Really? Councilor Van Slyke and numerous attendees had misleading information that tried to compare this event to the Seafood Festival, a three-hour family event with music and a movie, compared to a carnival with rides, merchants, more than 30 food vendors and open all day for three consecutive days and RVs parked on-site. How is that comparable. Councilor Van Slyke misinformed everyone by stating the town-wide survey had twenty-two thousand responses and only relented when confronted with her mistake. Councilor Clarkin wanted to control the traffic flow into the park. It was noted by several members of the public how these events are family-oriented and a great way for the community to re-engage, especially since the mask mandate has just ended and neighbors want to get out and socialize again. The CCA bloc didn’t care one bit, they had their minds made up prior to the meeting and nothing was going to change their thinking.
What is it with the CCA and their need for control? In the end they voted for a scaled down version of the event with “up to 3” trucks which will do little to increase attendance at the concerts and movies and nothing for small businesses in town and make more work for town staff.
What can taxpayers who are angry about this decision do? Call, text and email the three members of the CCA who voted down this proposal and let them know what you think. Here is their contact info:
Cody Clarkin, Phone: (401) 603-9740, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bonnie Van Slyke, Phone: (401) 533-2005, Email: email@example.com
Susan Cooper, Phone: (401) 603-9651, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Thom Cahir, Charlestown